The Impact of Childhood Trauma: Cognitive Development, Mental Health, and Trauma Informed Treatment

According to the National Children’s Alliance (2015), in 2014 approximately 116,940 children that experienced maltreatment were between the ages of 0 to 6. The risk of victimization is especially high during the first years of life that it is estimated that for every 1,000 children in the same age range, approximately 23 are victims of abuse (National Children’s Alliance, 2015). It is nationally estimated that in the fiscal year 2014 approximately 1,580 children died as a result of abuse and neglect (United States Department Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2014). Of these fatalities over 70% is composed of children younger than 3 years old. Annually over 75% of the reported child abuse cases consist of victims that were neglected, 17% were physically abused, 8.3% were sexually abused and 6.8% experienced “other types of maltreatment” (USDHHS, 2014). Child abuse does not only have a detrimental impact on the cognitive development of children, but also on their mental health. Research examined in this project demonstrates that neurodevelopmental changes in the brain, cognitive functioning, internal working model and mental health are the most adverse outcomes of childhood abuse. Trauma informed interventions examined in this study include Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(TF-CBT); Eye, Movement, Desensitization, and Re-processing (EMDR); and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).